The following are abnormally high and abnormally low hit rates through 10 weeks of the season. Some of these playersí skill sets may have truly changed, but more likely, most will eventually regress to the mean. Act accordingly:
BABIP = Batting average on balls in play or ďhit rate.Ē Most balls in play result in hits about 30 percent of the time. Home runs are not accounted for.
BJ Upton .447 BABIP Ė 534 career at-bats isnít a big enough sample size to establish a trend with Uptonís hit rate, but itís safe to say .447 is on the high side. Itís a mark that not only leads all of baseball but also is 33 points ahead of the next player. When you combine his lucky hit rate with a subpar .66 contact rate, Uptonís .320 batting average is more than a little fluky. Unless he starts taking a drastically different approach to the plate, heíll be lucky to bat .260 from here on out.
Also see: Jorge Posada (.414 BABIP), Derrek Lee (.402), Matt Holliday (.396)
Elijah Dukes .200 BABIP Ė Of all batters with the qualified number of at-bats, Dukes is having the worst luck in the game this year. Just 20 percent of all balls put into play are falling in for hits, helping to explain a terrible .196 average despite an OK contact rate. Maybe itís karma punishing Dukes for being an asshole. More likely, however, is that Dukesí hits start missing more gloves.
Also see: Jermaine Dye (.228), Corey Patterson (.247), Andruw Jones (.253), Pat Burrell (.254), Barry Bonds (.259), Gary Sheffield (.262)
Adam Wainwright .359 BABIP - The worst number in MLB. Wainwright hasnít pitched great this year (1.68 K/BB ratio, 6.1 K/9 IP), but he also hasnít been as bad as his 5.19 ERA indicates. A switch to the starting rotation figured to take a toll on his numbers, and heís still working on developing that important third pitch (slider) that wasnít needed when he was in the pen last year. But he dominated during spring, has a very good curveball and has Dave Duncan on his side. Wainwright could be a useful fantasy pitcher from here on out, especially once the abnormally high BABIP gets corrected.
Also see: Boof Bonser (.352), Randy Wolf (.342), Erik Bedard (.333), Daisuke Matsuzaka (.327), Scott Kazmir (.326)
Dan Haren .218 BABIP - There isnít a better sell-high candidate in the game right now. While most balls in play result in hits about 30 percent of the time, itís happening just 21.8 percent of the time for Haren this season, the lowest mark in major league baseball. When you also add in his league-leading strand rate (the percentage of batters that reach base but do not score) of .87 (a typical number is .59), youíre looking at the luckiest player in the league so far. His control is superb, he can strike guys out and heís no doubt an excellent pitcher, but to call Harenís ERA unsustainable would be an understatement. Try to cash out now.
Also see: Rich Hill (.218), Jeremy Guthrie (.244), James Shields (.250), Oliver Perez (.251), Chris Young (.267), Matt Cain (.268)